The majority of medical malpractice suits result from a misdiagnosis in which the doctor causes incorrect medical procedures or treatments (or in some situations, no treatment at all). The misdiagnosis or a delayed diagnosis can result in the patient’s condition worsening, additional medical complications, the need for further medical intervention, and permanent disabilities from botched treatments, or even the patient’s death.
Misdiagnosis cases are a common occurrence in the emergency room, as health care professionals must act quickly to treat patients in need of immediate medical attention. However, they should not sacrifice accuracy and common sense for speed, and emergency medical personnel must act responsibly to ensure that they do no harm to their patients.
Proving Negligence in a Misdiagnosis
Misdiagnosis cases revolve around medical malpractice law and require the same foundation as any other personal injury case, with one added factor. In order to succeed in a medical malpractice case, the victim must be able to establish four basic facts:
- There was a patient/doctor relationship between the defendant and the victim.
- The doctor owed the patient a duty of care. In these situations, doctors are expected to skillfully treat the patient and accurately identify medical issues. Mistakes sometimes happen even when the doctor has taken every reasonable precaution and exercised skillful medical practices. In these situations, the health care professional or doctor may avoid a malpractice claim as long as they can prove that it was an understandable mistake that other doctors of similar skill would likely have made.
- The doctor breached the duty of care to the patient through some negligent action. This may include improperly reading an x-ray, jumping to a conclusion about a patient’s condition without reasonably considering all possible options, or failing to address the patient’s medical history.
- The victim was injured as a direct result of the doctor’s negligence.
In some situations, the doctor may not be directly responsible for a misdiagnosis if they were consulting a specialist or an erroneous diagnostic test. Errors in diagnostics may occur due to faulty or poorly calibrated equipment and human error. A blood sample may get switched with another patient, a detail in pathology or toxicology readings was overlooked, or an x-ray was improperly taken.
The Cost of a Misdiagnosis and What Patients Can Do
Regardless of how it occurs, a misdiagnosis or a delayed diagnosis can have catastrophic or life-threatening consequences. Unreasonably delayed, a diagnosis may result in continued pain for the patient or the condition worsening. If the health care professional misreads test results or screenings, the patient may undergo completely unnecessary surgical procedures or never get the treatment they need.
If you’ve suffered as the result of a delayed diagnosis or a missed diagnosis, it’s vital to be aware of your rights. If any of the health care professionals responsible for your treatment acted negligently in performing their duties and providing medical care, you may be able to claim damages for your extra medical expenses, the cost of ongoing or corrective treatments, pain and suffering, or the wrongful death of a loved one. The attorneys of Douglas, Haun & Heidemann believe that anyone who acts negligently in the medical treatment of patients has violated their duty to do no harm to the people they treat and that they need to be held accountable for their irresponsible actions.
Several factors can cause a botched diagnosis, and we have the experience to navigate any misdiagnosis case. Our firm has represented clients in the Springfield, Mo., area for over 100 years, and we will aggressively pursue just compensation and fight for the rights of our clients. Reach out to our team of legal experts to start reviewing your misdiagnosis case, or if you have any questions about medical malpractice law in Springfield.